Julian Nagelsmann is now on everyone’s lips, soon to be the coach of FC Bayern Munich and thus the most expensive coach in the world. In 2015 he still coached the U19 of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. Nagelsmann gave SPOX then one of his first nationwide interviews.
This article first appeared on February 9, 2015.
It spoke at the age of 27 about his dramatic end to his career, embarrassment in the first division debut and Pep Guardiola’s alleged profile neurosis.
Mr Nagelsmann, you once played in the offspring of 1860 Munich and FC Augsburg. Did you think you had a good chance of a professional career back then?
Julian Nagelsmann: Basically yes, but I’ve been injured many times. I broke the same vertebra three times. That was because I only have four lumbar vertebrae. This is only the case with very few people. The fourth vertebra is therefore heavily stressed, edema can form and tear. That was a handicap.
Nagelsmann: Yes. I had already trained with the pros, but at some point I wanted to distance myself from 1860. There my image was very much shaped by all the injuries. So I went to Augsburg, but things went downhill very quickly for me. After knee surgery, the doctor found cartilage damage. Then I decided to end my active time.
The diagnosis of a meniscus tear is actually not necessarily associated with the end of a career.
Nagelsmann: Unfortunately it went very badly. The injury was not operated on optimally. In the four months of rehab I was still in a lot of pain. So we did an arthroscopy. It was found that something was still broken on the rear horn. Inflammatory fluid got into the joint and softened the cartilage. I had third-degree cartilage damage, as some professionals do today. You can play with it, if not painlessly. But it wouldn’t have been worth it for me. Otherwise I would have needed an artificial knee when I was 40.
You graduated from high school in Augsburg and started studying business administration during your career. Was that the plan B for a professional career?
Nagelsmann: It’s true, at first I didn’t want to have anything to do with football at all. But I still had a valid contract in Augsburg. That was one of the reasons why my coach at the time, Thomas Tuchel, approached me. He didn’t mean: You will be a coach now. Rather, it was a pragmatic decision. Since the FCA continued to pay me, I spotted opponents for Tuchel. The alternative would have been to terminate the contract and I didn’t want that.
So Tuchel paved the way for you as a coach?
After the time at 1860, you joined Hoffenheim in 1899 and became assistant coach of the U17s. For this you had to leave around 350 kilometers behind you …
Nagelsmann: It was a risk. However, I was given the prospect of being head coach one day at an early stage – which happened relatively quickly.